Compass Positive Discipline Ezine

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COMPASS Positive Discipline E-Zine for Families

Issue 3 Spring 2015

COPYRIGHT NOTICE Copyright 2015: Distribution and/or reproduction of all materials without prior consent of each individual contributor is a violation of copyright. This publication is not for sale or resale. The materials contained herein are intended as educational and informational materials only. Materials are not a substitute for counseling or mental health services and not provided as such. If you are concerned about your child’s health and development please contact your health provider. You received this publication in exchange for signing up to a mailing list from one of the contributors, you may unsubscribe at any time.

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In This Issue Building “Emotional Intelligence” in your Child 1 By Debbie Zeichner, LCSW 5 Ways Teens Ask For Help (But Can’t Admit It)


By Kimberly Gonsalves 5 Ways to Move From Disciplinarian to Coach


By Marcilie Smith Boyle Your Child’s Happiness in Life


By Paige Michaelis There is NO Misbehavior


By Nathan M McTague The Big Picture


By Casey O’Roarty Encouraging Phrases for Raising Capable Kids


By Ariadne Brill The Anger Wheel of Choice: Anger is Just a Feeling


By Jane Nelsen Investing in Family Happiness:


By Carol Schilling Dores Parent Explanations Gone Wild


By Kelly Pfeiffer

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Building “Emotional Intelligence” in your Child By Debbie Zeichner, LCSW Raising a child who is self-aware, well-adjusted and able to effectively manage his emotions ranks high on many parents priority lists these days. With recent world events involving acts of hate and violence, it behooves us to look within at our own emotional lives and the messages we are sending our children regarding self-love, self-acceptance and empathy toward others. According to Daniel Goleman, a prominent psychologist and scientific journalist who wrote a book on the topic of emotional intelligence, “helping children improve their selfawareness and confidence, manage their disturbing emotions and impulses and increase their empathy, pays off not just in improved behavior, but in measurable academic achievement.” Emotional intelligence, as Goleman explains, has to do with how we manage ourselves and our relationships based on self-awareness (understanding what we feel), selfmanagement (handling distressing emotions in effective ways), empathy (understanding what someone else is feeling) and how we put this all together in our social relationships, otherwise known as “social skills.” Thus, having emotional intelligence provides us with the ability to better know ourselves, get along with others and problem solve more effectively.

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So, as parents, how can we best foster and nurture this vital skill in our children? To begin, start by seeing yourself as your child’s “emotion coach.” As a coach, you can help your child to better understand his emotional world through empathy and understanding. Here are some helpful tips to guide you in this process (it helps to do this for yourself as well!): 1.) Simply acknowledge, without judgment, what your child is feeling. Often times, when our kids become “stressed,” (yes, kids experience stress just as adults…it just takes on a different form tantrums, anyone?) they can become flooded with emotions and don’t have an understanding of what is happening to them. Having such intense emotions is scary and overwhelming. When you help your child put a label to the emotion she is feeling, you increase her emotional vocabulary. For example, “You are so angry that Sam took your toy away.” 2.) Listen to and allow expression of your child’s feelings. All humans have a basic need to feel understood and accepted. When you can listen to your child’s experience and allow expression of unpleasant feelings, you are meeting your child’s needs (thus decreasing the need to misbehave), while also teaching him that emotions are not right or wrong, they just are. “You’re so mad that it’s raining and you can’t go outside. I would feel upset too.” 3.) Remember, you don’t have to “fix” it. Seeing your child distressed can be very upsetting. Often, if we didn’t learn how to accept our own negative feelings, it can be hard to accept them in others, let alone our own child. Remember, feelings are not right or wrong. They are simply emotions that come and go, so long as we allow their healthy expression. When your child is experiencing an upsetting emotion, know that it’s simply your job to be present. Help guide your child through the experience using empathy and acknowledgement. Resist the urge to fix or

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make the feelings go away as this only causes repression. By accepting your child’s emotional life, you’re teaching her that it’s ok to feel what she’s feeling. 4.) Teach problem solving skills. Emotions, when acknowledged, provide us with information that can assist in problem solving. Teach and model self-calming skills such a deep breathing, walking away, counting to 10 etc. Once calm, help your child brainstorm solutions to his problem. Let your child come up with his own ideas to show confidence in his abilities, providing assistance when asked or if he gets stuck. For example, “You really want to play with that truck and Joey has it right now. It’s so hard to wait. Do you have any ideas for how you can solve this problem?” 5.) Take time for yourself. Parenting is hard work! Be sure to take time for yourself and nurture yourself. Model for your child the importance of self-care, as you will want her to learn to do the same. Building our child’s emotional intelligence is a step toward building a world where differences are respected, disagreements are solved peacefully and healthy relationships thrive.

Debbie Zeichner Debbie Zeichner, LCSW, is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Parent Coach who has specialized in working with adults, children and families for over 18 years. As a Certified Parent Educator in both Positive Discipline and Redirecting Children's Behavior (RCB), Debbie facilitates engaging parenting classes, workshops and individualized coaching to assist parents in creating a sense of calm, confidence and connection within themselves and their families.

To learn more about Debbie and her parent coaching services, please visit:

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5 Ways Teens Ask For Help (But Can’t Admit It) By Kimberly Gonsalves “Mom, you’re so unreasonable!” You may have noticed a growing chasm between your sense of what’s reasonable and your teens’ sense of what’s reasonable. Very often, when you have to work out limits, follow through, and hold your teen accountable, your teen will engage in pushback, rebellion, or even mutiny. Psychologists have a lovely euphemism for this phenomenon. They call it “individuation”. Here’s what individuation might sound like…

individuation I can make my own decisions. I’m practically an adult. No! Don’t bug me about it! I’ve got this Velocity? Gravity? No worries - I’ve got a special relationship with the universe! It won’t happen to me Do you have any money? U suck All right! all right! You don’t have to be so… That’s not fair I’m the only kid whose parents won’t let them …. OMG No one else has to…

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Here are 5 ways your teen may be asking you for help, and tips to meet them where they are. I can make my own decisions. I’m practically an adult. What your teen is really saying: I want to have more control over what I do in my life. I’m ready for more responsibility. What your teen is not saying: I still need you to help me think things through, but I’m not going to give you any ammunition to put limits on me. Give me lots of opportunities to practice making decisions. When I make mistakes, help me think about what I might do differently next time, and what my learning was. Let me live with the consequences, as much as possible. Help me reflect on my own thinking and experiences. No. What your teen is really saying: I’m trying to make my own decision, or set a boundary for myself. What your teen is not saying: I am open to hearing your point of view, and I need you to set the example for constructive discussion. Ask me to share my reasoning with you. If you can’t live with “no”, tell me which parts you might be in agreement on, and seek compromise, if reasonable. You want me to say “no” to drugs, alcohol, peer pressure? I need to practice saying “no” and meaning it. Don’t bug me about it! What your teen is really saying: This decision or responsibility is in front of me, and I’m ambivalent/unsure of myself/it may not be important to me. When you nag me about things, it reduces my motivation to act. What your teen is not saying: Pin me down on specifics such as by what day and time I need to get a task done. Don’t let me weasel out of keeping my word. Stick to the issue at hand. Don’t attack my character or weaknesses in your frustration. Realize that you’re going to have to follow through because we don’t share the same priorities. Let me fail or miss out sometimes when that’s the natural consequence of inaction.

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I’ve got this. What your teen is really saying: I can do this. I don’t need or want your help. What your teen is not saying: Help me be ready for scenarios I don’t have experience with yet. Help me role play how to get out of tricky situations (alcohol, drugs, peer pressure), practice saying “no”, and create an emergency plan with me (a phrase I can use that means “Get me out of here!”).

No worries - I’ve got a special relationship with the universe! What your teen is really saying: I see risk, I just see it differently than you do.

Velocity? Gravity? No worries - I’ve got a special relationship with the universe! What your teen is really saying: I see risk, I just see it differently than you do. What your teen is not saying: My brain is changing, and dopamine (that neurotransmitter that creates the drive for reward) is making me more impulsive. It also nudges me toward hyper- rationality (I see the facts, but not the context of situations, so I tend to focus on the positive outcomes, not the risks). My brain also releases more dopamine than yours in response to exciting experiences. Help me channel the need for excitement in constructive ways (sports, new experiences). When I blow it, put real consequences in place to slow me down. Look for positive intent, and help me gain skills. Be present - tune in to how I feel. Help me learn to listen to my gut, to develop my intuition and develop positive values around things I really care about. That’s more effective than trying to scare me into not doing things.

Next time you hear resistance, remember the hidden “ask”. Tell your teen you love her. Honor the person he is becoming. Keep talking. Have fun together. Don’t be fooled: your teen still needs you.

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Kimberly Gonsalves Through workshops, training and coaching, Kimberly helps parents and others working with families to support kids in becoming capable people who thrive. A Certified Positive Discipline Trainer, ICF-accredited Coach, and mom of 2, Kimberly brings humor, insight and positive, research-backed principles and tools that build skills, restore clarity and confidence, and promote respectful relationships.

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5 Ways to Move From Disciplinarian to Coach By Marcilie Smith Boyle One of my greatest fears upon marrying a "nice guy" was that I would become the "disciplinarian" and he'd become, or rather remain, the "nice guy." Dang. It happened! Ironically, the thing that pushed me even farther in to the "disciplinarian" role was . . . can you guess it? Yup, my old friend, Fear. . . Fear that my kids would grow up to be homeless and broke, rude and irresponsible, simply disrespectful, or worst of all: lazy! Oh how amazing it was for me to discover Professional Coaching and Positive Discipline all at once. It was a way out of the narrow and unsatisfying role as "disciplinarian" and into a new one that felt so freeing and empowering for everyone involved: “coach!” So what’s the difference? I think the main difference between “coach” and “disciplinarian” is that a coach’s role is much more flexible. While a disciplinarian comes down hard when you’ve messed up, a coach can do so much more.

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Think of the most awesome coach you ever had (or if you didn’t have an awesome coach, think about someone who was very encouraging to you.) What did they do? What did they say? Perhaps your answers look something like this:

they really cared about me they listened to me they believed in me they focused my strengths and my potential they taught me new skills they cheered me on from the sidelines without stepping in to the do work for me - they held me accountable to my goals and dreams -

Bottom line: coaches are encouraging! And as Rudolf Dreikurs, a pioneer of “Positive Discipline” noted, “Each child needs continuous encouragement just as a plant needs water.”

Here are 5 ways to move from disciplinarian to coach. Watch your child blossom as a result! 1. Listen more and better. “When another person is totally with you – leaning in, interested in every word, eager to empathize – you feel known and understood.” -- Co-Active Coaching, 3rd Edition. Coaches know that listening well accomplishes so many goals:  it builds connection and trust  it signals to the child that he is worthy of being heard  it helps us understand the root cause of the problem/situation Parents frequently lament that their kids “just don’t listen.” But perhaps that’s because we haven’t modeled what real listening looks and feels like. The next time your child has something to say to you, if at all possible, stop what you’re doing, get down at his level, and look him in the eye and model what listening is all about. 2. Focus on your client’s potential, rather than her weakness. If you see

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your child as irresponsible, incompetent, or unmotivated, you will notice everything they're doing wrong and try to correct it. This is a very discouraging model for growth. On the other hand, when you shine the spotlight on that tiny seed of strength or success, that seed inevitably grows. My own example is when I decided to stop pointing out every mistake my daughter was making while practicing her piano, and instead focus on what was going right. When I shifted my focus this way, “Wow, you really stuck with that piece. I heard how you kept working that same measure, over and over again, until you got it,” she literally beamed. She held her head high and thumped her chest with her fist. Yes! She did rock it, and there’s nothing more motivating that being noticed for something going right. 3. Focus on solutions and the future rather than problems and the past. A disciplinarian thinks, “what’s wrong with him?” or “he can’t do that and get away with it!” A coach thinks, “what does he need in order to be successful?” or “what made it difficult for him to do the right thing?” Coaches tend to view mistakes as opportunities to learn rather than as reasons for blame, shame, and punishment. They put their focus on the future, and finding solutions that are both encouraging and build long-term skills. For example, the disciplinarian might berate a child for being late morning after morning, or threaten to take away a privilege. A coach would help the child build the skills to get ready on time like laying out clothes the night before, creating a routine chart, or simply getting an alarm clock. 4. Ask more, tell less. Coaches know, and recent brain research confirms, that learning sticks better when it is drawn forth from the learner rather than stuffed in by the teacher. (David Rock, “Learning Through The AGES” 2010). Asking questions conveys respect and helps the learner arrive at their own “a-ha’s.” That’s why it is the most frequently used “tool” in coaching. Some of the most powerful questions you can ask begin with “what?” and “how?” because these “curiosity questions” invite curiosity and exploration. Try to avoid “why?” questions which tend to invite defensiveness and explanations. Here are some examples. Rather than making demands, try these: COMPASS | Positive Discipline EZINE for Families

  

What’s next on your routine chart? What do you need to stay warm today? How would you like to get out of the tub tonight? Like leapfrog or like a rocket?

Rather than a punishment or lecture, try these:  What happened?  How do you feel about what happened?  What were you trying to accomplish?  What do you want to do now? 5. Hold accountability. Good coaches hold their clients accountable to the actions they’ve agree to take, but they do it in a way that is encouraging rather than discouraging. If I consistently berate my clients for not doing what they said they’d do, chances are good that I will be fired. No one likes a guilt trip! It is possible to hold people accountable without using guilt. Here are some tips:  Agree on a deadline for check-in. For example, “Thanks for agreeing to feed the dog every night. Let’s check back in on Sunday night and see how it’s going.” Then follow through!  Co-create structures to help your child remember (a sticky note, a sign, a picture, a routine chart, a calendar entry, etc.)  When your child is not following through, hold them accountable by asking a question, “How is the dog-feeding going?” or by saying one word, “Dog,” or act without words (act like a panting dog.)  If after repeated attempts, the child is not keeping their end of the deal, it’s time for the coach to get curious about what’s getting in the way. A conversation using “curiosity questions” can be helpful here! Of course there are many other skills and methods coaches use to help their clients. These are but a few. According to Mike Riera, teen psychologist, author, and school administrator, somewhere around 5th grade or so, children begin to realize that they don’t want their parents managing their lives so closely anymore. At that point, they will fire their parents as their managers (without any advance notice!) If we are lucky, and have invested in a strong, loving, and mutually respectful relationship with our kids, they will then re-hire us as “coach!”*

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Better to start your coaching training early, and secure your job offer! *Riera says, “consultant,” but I’ve changed the wording to “coach” to serve my theme.

Marcilie Smith Boyle Marcilie Smith Boyle, MBA, CPCC coaches high achieving parents and professionals toward authentic success so that they can live, work, and parent with more peace, purpose, and joy. A Certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator and Life & Leadership Coach, she leverages her previous sixteen-year consulting and marketing career to ensure her clients get a return on their coaching investment. Marcilie earned her MBA from Harvard Business School, and CPCC from The Coaches Training Institute. She offers 1:1 and group coaching (live or via phone/Skype) on topics such as parenting, work/life balance, career transition, and leadership as well as “Parenting with Positive Discipline” classes and speaking events in the San Francisco Bay Area. More info here.

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The #1 Tool to Ensure your Child’s Happiness in Life By Paige Michaelis Recent statistics state that the current generation of millennials has the highest levels of depression, anxiety and stress compared to any generation previously, and only 34% of women in this age group can “handle their stress.” Many of them aren’t managing it in productive or healthy ways either, with many turning to drugs, alcohol or other types of risky behavior to quell these feelings.

And while there are various schools of thought as to why this generation is so stressed out, including the unstable job market, helicopter parenting and high societal expectations for success; clearly building our children’s ability to handle and overcome life’s problems and rise above adversity is paramount.

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As we think about taking the LONG VIEW of how we are parenting today affects our children as adults, let’s think about HOW do we best prepare our children for handling life’s problems? Well, here is a recent example of how NOT to do it.  As parents we need to learn how coach kids through their more challenging moments and help them discern what they have learned for the next time. We must avoid solving all their problems, and teach them to handle uncertainty and how to problem-solve on their own. In short, we must develop their RESILLIENCE towards life in order to help them ensure maximum happiness. My free spirited daughter is now in 4th grade. She is being called names by a group of kids almost every day. I have spoken to the teacher to try to figure out why it is occurring and what she has done about it, and with my daughter I am using the coach-approach; the core of which, is asking lots of “curiosity” questions:

      

What leads up to the name calling? How does she feel about it? Why does she think these kids are picking on her? What does she do? How has that worked? Is there anything else she thinks she can do? Would she like any suggestions?

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You get the idea. The key here is to be nonjudgmental, keep your own feelings out of it, and offer suggestions if asked. Help the child to explore the situation with you. The coach-approach also offers up the energetic belief in her capacity to handle it, empathy for what she is going through, and, in this case, a chance to teach empathy as well-“ What do you think might be going on for those kids that they feel like they want to call you names all the time?”

As they grow, continuing to share this attitude of unconditional love, value, belonging and support is key

Building resiliency begins in the first three years with the development of strong parent/child attachment and bonding: Responding to cues, providing love and meeting needs. This bond provides a child a sense of safety and security, a belief that the world is a safe place that welcomes and supports, and allows for risks and exploration. As they grow, continuing to share this attitude of unconditional love, value, belonging and support is key.

Here are some other ways in which to build resiliency: 1. Start seeing children’s mistakes as opportunities for them to learn, rather than as something bad, a failure or inadequate. Ask kids: “What were you trying to accomplish?” “What worked?” “What didn’t?” “What would you do differently the next time?” This is a GREAT tool to encourage them to brush themselves off and TRY AGAIN. And while viewing an F on a project as learning opportunity is HARD for us parents, think about those LONG TERM traits and beliefs that children can learn from this reframing. 2. Teaching self-control techniques to our kids & modeling self-control techniques ourselves is also very helpful in the long term. These can include deep breathing, counting to ten before responding, walking away, regrouping, etc., so kids can get used to using mindful tools when challenges come about. Along with this comes modeling 3. Self-care- (eating right, exercise, spa days :) – See there IS a good reason to do these!! Our kids can learn healthy ways to take care of themselves. Again, thinking long term here. 4. Asking for their opinions & developing opportunities for their growth/learning: Hold regular family meetings where they can participate, provide responsibilities (even as young as 2 years old) and providing lots of personal choices. Allow them to develop their voice and

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their capability and engage them in figuring out how they can handle life’s challenges.

As you can see, promoting resilience in kids is a not a single event but a continuous process that requires adults to be supportive and empathetic to kids when things don’t go their way. Unfortunately, being resilient does not mean that children won't experience difficulty or distress, but they will have the lifelong skills to be able to move forward with ease, let go of deep pains and hurts more easily, and, use the hardships of life as lessons from which to learn and to grow. I hope this helps. Read more a

Paige Michaelis Paige Michaelis is a Certified Positive Discipline Educator, Coach and the Founder of 1 Minute Mommy. She is also the mother of two amazing girls and wife to a very child-like husband. She can be found at .

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There is NO Misbehavior A New Way of Seeing our Children’s Emotionally-Triggered Actions By Nathan M McTague Mis + Behavior Here’s something with which all parents everywhere have to deal. Just for signing up as a parent, we’ll have to face this little concept. We’ll be asked to pick sides, to align ourselves with certain strategies, and to commit ourselves fully to waging all-out war. We’ll be told we have no choice. That anything else would be, well – permissiveness.

But we’ve made a huge imaginary Mis + Take…

The word “misbehavior” means: “an improper, inappropriate, or bad manner of acting”, and of course this means in terms of social norms, family rules, etc.. In use, though, it’s commonly applied to any action that we grown-ups don’t like, and never fails to imply some nefarious intent on the part of the “misbehaver”. The truth is, however, that children (especially young ones) who are experiencing powerful emotions aren’t choosing actions -- they’re compelled by their feelings to act in ways that they can’t regulate. They aren’t misbehaving. They’re doing exactly as their biology intends. And whether we like it or not, it couldn’t be more appropriate for where they are developmentally and what they are experiencing physio-emotionally.

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The Safety System or Ain’t Misbehavin’ When children experience intense emotion, they lose contact with the executive part of the brain. That means, just like someone with Alzheimer’s can’t access the brain machinery for memories, so too, an upset child can’t access the brain machinery for thinking clearly, or acting carefully. When emotion strikes, that emotion has to be dealt with first in order for the executive brain, which controls thinking and motor impulses (among a host of other higher functions), to come back online. This happens in one or more of three ways: 1. Like every healthy mammal, the child calls out for help and receives the empathetic support that she needs in order to let out the emotion, and/or get other needs met, and then returns to a calm state and higher-brain function. 2. The child’s nervous system obliges her body to some action to discharge the intensity of the uncomfortable feeling. Her brain is on it’s way to reverting to a survival state, and punching her sister is a tiny release, a minor, incremental improvement over the jealousy and powerlessness, etc., she was feeling just before. 3. The child stuffs the feeling and tries to move on, though encumbered more and more by accumulating, painful feelings; until 1. and/or 2. above happens.

What we’ve been trained to call “misbehavior” is actually a neural survival mechanism…

When our kids cry for help, it’s easier to see, but we’d do well to become skilled at recognizing the call for assistance in their disagreeable actions as well. Their brains are driving them to do something to which we’ll attend, so that they can get the emotional support they need in order to return to higher functionality. And

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what’s more -- they can’t stop it without our help because their impulse control is in the executive brain where they’ve lost access. It’s honestly unrealistic for us to expect that they’d be able to act in any other way! They’re doing exactly as is normal and best for the human brain. Period. And if we want to help them “act right” and “make good choices” then we have to help them get “back in their right minds”.

When children are behaving in ways that don’t fit in with the herd, it’s actually a very fortunate signal that there’s something wrong with how they feel. And if there’s something wrong with how they feel, it’s usually a sign that they have a

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need that is going unmet. So the next time your kid “acts up” you can thank him for being so clear with you!

Working in Reverse Fortunately, this system is a two-way street. We can have a massive effect on how our kids act simply by how we attend to their feelings and their needs.

When a child is engaged in an activity that we would normally call misbehavior, we have an enormous opportunity before us… Instead of just punishing or guilt-tripping our way into smoldering, temporary compliance, we can turn this rift in the family joy into a boon for the relationship and invite our children to a whole range of other more agreeable types of actions, just by being with them in empathy. Here’s a few ideas to start: 1. Respond






recognizing that our children are being forced to “act up” and can’t “put on the breaks”; and recognizing their suffering and need for assistance. 2. Get curious – instead of trying to hammer in a lesson on etiquette (for which the higher brain is necessary to hear and remember), we can look under the surface of the behavior for the uncomfortable feeling(s) driving it; and find out if there is an(other) unmet need associated with it. Ask, “What’s going on for you, love? Are you upset?” and wait and listen. Remember that when we parents feel disrespected (or saddened, or enraged) by the behavior, that’s a good indication of what feeling it is discharging for the child, too.

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3. Assist children with the feelings involved and struggling to get out – they need our help to let out those big emotions and calm down and “think straight” again. The shortest distance between our children’s disagreeable actions and ones we’d rather see is through the co-managed off-loading of their painful feelings. Be with them in empathy in whatever manner(s) they like best for solely the feelings piece. And wait. 4. Then if there is an(other) unmet need fueling the uncomfortable emotion, we can help meet that as well. Look for a need to meet in every action that annoys, and find a more agreeable way to meet it. We can almost always find ways to meet our children’s needs in a manner that works for us as well, but if for some reason we can’t, then it’s a clear indicator that our work right then lies in assisting with the feelings associated with that disappointment instead – remaining firm while focusing on being kind.

This process restores family peace, reaffirms the parent-child bond, and makes way for more ideal actions and better, higher-brain choices to follow. Every time.

Now, don’t get hung up on whether or not to “give in” to your child’s ill-conceived or worse controlled plans to have his or her needs met…

Assisting with feelings and meeting needs is separate from condoning actions. We can do all of the above, and then when they can hear us, still talk about what we’d prefer they do in the future. And because of how we’ve handled them, we’ve made it easier and more attractive for them to handle us with empathy, too. And when it comes right down to it, that’s all we hope to teach them about how to “behave” anyway! Once we translate “misbehavior” as “having feelings and trying to get needs met” then we can see, we don’t have to wage war on what they do, we just have to meet them where they are.

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Nathan M McTague Nathan M McTague, CPCC, CPDPE Nathan is a life coach, parenting mentor, and certified positive discipline parent educator, committed to empowering people to reach their greatest potentials in family, work, and life. He writes the popular parenting blog A Beautiful Place of the World where he tenderly and meticulously shares the science and logic behind, and benefits of, parenting with connection. He can be reached for further inquiries at

Did you know? By signing up for COMPASS contributors newsletters, parenting classes and visiting each website you can find even more helpful and useful parenting support!

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The Big Picture By Casey O’Roarty Parenting is a practice. Parenting is an opportunity to show up as our best. When my daughter was young, and I only had one child, I figured I had the parenting thing in the bag. It was easy. I was able to accept and appreciate comments like “you’re such a good mom” and “you are so connected to her.” As long as my daughter was in a sling, with easy access to my breasts, she was happy. And I was ok with that, so I was happy too. I considered her easy. Looking back, I realize that my daughter really wasn’t easy. I was committed to being available to her and meeting her needs, so it didn’t feel challenging to me, although her constant attachment needs may have driven another mama crazy… Jump ahead a couple of years and my daughter was joined by my son. Consumed by the very real needs of a newborn baby, I was no longer as available as I had been for my daughter. Even writing this, my chest feels tight and my breath constricts. While this period of time was so beautiful, welcoming my baby boy into the world, it is also colored with deep pain for the way that my relationship with my daughter changed. COMPASS | Positive Discipline EZINE for Families

This was when my true parenting practice began. This was when my core values were pushed aside by the bigger emotions of fear, anger and overwhelm. This was when I learned that I could react in a split second with mean words and a cruel tongue… I did not like who I was becoming in my relationship with my daughter… Fortunately, this is also when I found Positive Discipline. The Positive Discipline philosophy highlights, among other things, that our children form beliefs about how they belong based on their perception of the world around them, and those beliefs then are the foundation for how they decide to behave. It is a really big concept and it absolutely has been key to the relationship I build every day with my now twelve year old daughter.

The Positive Discipline philosophy highlights, among other things, that our children form beliefs about how they belong based on their perception of the world around them, and those beliefs then are the foundation for how they decide to behave

So back to my situation… I had pulled out of the relationship that my daughter had come to depend on for safety and comfort. I was distracted, irritable, and unavailable to her – generally because I was taking care of her brother or overwhelmed by the change in our family dynamics. This was painful for her. She observed me spending time with her younger brother, she made meaning in her young brain that the baby was more important, and her belief was that she didn’t fit and that hurt. Her very logical decision was to pass the hurt on to the baby.

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It showed up subtly – little pushes, mean words, bossyness. All behaviors that I could have seen as indications that she was feeling disconnected. Instead, I took all that behavior personally (probably triggered by guilt around my poor behavior towards my siblings when we were young) and I would get really mad at her. Really mad. What showed up was intimidation, generally in the form of yelling. I felt out of control and just so angry. My sweet little girl would just stand there, tears would well up in her eyes, but she would take my anger quietly… Hurts my heart to think back to this time. So she was hurting my son, I was hurting her, she would then continue to hurt my son, I would continue to get mad and yell… Thank the sweet Lord for Positive Discipline. We were trapped in a revenge cycle. She perceived that she didn’t belong in our family – this hurt her deeply. She would take that hurt and share it with her brother. I continued to reinforce this belief by reacting with anger. Once I learned this, it all made perfect sense. I changed. I set up special time with my daughter and I to play on her terms, whatever she wanted to do, every day while her brother napped. I looked for opportunities to pull her in, to love her and let her know through words and action how much I loved her. I began to notice the signals in my own body, the sharp intake of breath followed by disbelief when she said or did something hurtful… I began to ask her, are you hurting right now? Is there something bothering you? Are you feeling disconnected?

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This is my parenting practice. To notice myself, my body and emotions, in response to what is happening with my kids. I value being a connected, compassionate mom. I value self control and thoughtfulness. I value perspective taking and empathy. These values are really easy to move from when everything is going well. What I practice is stepping into these values when things are not going well… When I would rather lash out, yell or guilt my kids (“I feel so disrespected when it seems as though you are ignoring me”). This is the playing field. This is the arena… The opportunity to show up in a way that models the type of person I hope that my children grow up to be… This is my practice. This is the big picture.

Casey O'Roarty Casey O’Roarty, M.Ed. I am a wife, mother, Certified Positive Discipline Trainer and life coach. I have a BA in Sociology from the University of Arizona, and earned a M.Ed from the University of Washington. I teach teachers and parents all about how to build stronger, more authentic relationships with the children in their lives… I encourage grown ups to begin the process of embracing the challenges that come up, and see them as opportunities to model, teach and practice the skills we want our children to learn to embody. Please check out all of my offers, my blog and podcast at and life “Joyful Courage” on facebook!

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Encouraging Phrases for Raising Capable Kids By Ariadne Brill

Encouraging words give your child a boost and demonstrates your genuine interest and support. Children that feel encouraged are much more likely to feel confident, capable and have a healthy sense of self. As parents, using encouraging words helps our children believe in their abilities to attempt, fail and accomplish just about anything. Encouragement focuses on process and on teaching children to face any challenge, without fearing or feeling pressure related to the eventual outcome. In positive discipline, the principles of encouraging and having faith in our child’s abilities is key. According to Adlerian psychology (which provides the basis for positive discipline) encouragement is the process of developing a child’s inner resources and providing courage to make positive choices.

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Different from praise, encouragement focuses on effort, improvement, appreciation and voicing our confidence in our child’s interests and abilities.

So, here are six phrases that focus on encouraging, showing faith and building your child’s inner sense of capability: 1. I see you: When your child is working on something, a new project, a new skill, “I see you” is a great way to let them know you are there, present and supporting them. Saying “I see you” also helps us skip offering instructions and “fixing” which takes away from their own learning experience. 2. Not Yet: If your child is struggling with a new skill, it can be very encouraging to reflect what they are saying and offer encouragement with the phrase “Not Yet” You haven’t figured out the puzzle piece YET. OR You don’t understand that math homework YET. This small word implies you have faith in their

Focus on the Journey!

ability to figure it out. Research on grit and resilience from Dr.Carol Dweck says that children that are encouraged with words like NOT YET are more likely to stick to the project at hand until they succeed! 3. I believe you: There are quite some emotional times in our children’s lives and how they perceive certain events may be vastly different than how we perceive them. Your child may feel scared, worried, anxious or cheated at times. It may seem simple or straightforward to you, but these

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feelings are very real to your child. It’s very

“How was that?”

encouraging to a child when we believe and honor their genuine feelings. I believe you

When my son received a

might sound like: I believe you are scared. I believe you didn’t like the way your friend treated you. I believe you don’t want to take that test. Believing isn’t the same as agreeing, it is

because the weeks leading up to the tournament, he

simply a way to validate your child’s feelings.

was very nervous and

4. How was that? Letting children own their own experiences before we assign value to them can be quite boosting to their esteem. I really like asking my children after they have accomplished, attempted or failed at something “How was that for you?” because it allows them to reflect on their own experience or efforts without any judgement on my part. (See how I used this phrase recently in the side bar!)

5. You figured it out: This is an excellent phrase to acknowledge their effort without judgement. If it took three or three hundred attempts, “You figured it out” puts the emphasis and encouragement in the right place --- your child


gold medal in his very first Karate tournament, we were all very surprised. Not because he isn’t capable, but

worried about it. I had encouraged his progress and validated his struggles. After each class asking “How was class for you today?” And he shared about his many struggles and small successes. And I got to listen. The day of the tournament, when he got off the podium, I knew exactly what to say: … “How was that for you?” and he was so excited “Amazing, so amazing. I can’t believe it. I won gold! Gold. This feels

for sticking with it and finally getting it done!

so good. I did it. I really did it. All that practice was so worth it. ” It was his

I love you: Tried and true, I love you never

moment, and he owned it.

gets old! Every child, in the moment of failure or accomplishment wants to feel and know that they are loved.

Watching him reflect on his own effort and accomplishments was amazing.

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When it comes to encouragement, speaking from the heart is so important. Children really do take our words to heart. And to form a concept of self. “You can do it” becomes “I can do it!” and “I see you” becomes “I matter.” So, watch intently, see the learning process, encourage each step and believe. It’s a great recipe for raising capable children!

Ariadne Brill Ariadne is the mother to three children and a parenting educator. She has a B.S. in Communication and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She has studied Psychology, child development and family counseling extensively. Ariadne is the founder of Positive Parenting Connection, an online resource for parents who wish to raise confident, capable and cooperative children. Ariadne is also the author of Twelve Alternatives To Time Out: Connected Discipline Tools for Raising Cooperative Children

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The Anger Wheel of Choice: Anger is Just a Feeling By Jane Nelsen When I was growing up, I didn’t know that anger is just a feeling. To me anger meant withdrawal of love. My mother didn’t tell me she was angry. She just wouldn’t speak to me for days. However, she did “speak” loud and clear with the look of disgust and disapproval on her face whenever she looked at me during those days of silence. My childlike mind twisted that to mean that people would stop loving me if I got angry.

Lynn Lott, coauthor of several of the Positive Discipline books, and my dear friend and mentor, taught me that feelings are always okay. What we do about those feelings may not be okay. In other words, feeling angry is okay. Withdrawing love, or the many ways I expressed my anger, is not okay, (more about that later). Knowing that anger is just a feeling, is always okay and may help change some

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old childhood beliefs. Recently I was feeling angry with a friend. Instead of following my previous pattern of trying to talk myself out of my anger, or making snide remarks, I said to my friend, "I want to tell you how angry I am, and I want you to still love me." I did and she did. When I took responsibility for my anger, instead of dancing around it, my friend was able to share her point of view. Then we apologized for our misperceptions and felt great again. Many adults have not learned the valuable language of feelings. We are afraid that if we feel something we have to do something hurtful to others or ourselves. This is usually based on past experiences. The Anger Wheel of Choice can help our children learn another way. During a calm time you can teach them that what they feel is always okay, and that what they do is not okay if the “doing� hurts others or themselves. You can show them the wheel of choice and teach them these alternative ways of expressing their anger that does not hurt others. You might want to combine the Anger Wheel of Choice with the Positive TimeOut tool card, the Understanding the Brain tool card and the Focus on Solutions tool card. Let your children know that once they have expressed their

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feelings and calmed down, they might be able to think of more respectful ways to express their anger to another person, such as simply saying, “I’m angry at you right now. When we both feel better I hope we can find a solution that is respectful to both of us.” It is just possible, that if children learn these life skills, they would feel more capable and confident, would experience more loving relationships with others, and would be instruments of peace in the world.

Jane Nelsen Dr. Jane Nelsen is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Counselor in South Jordan, UT and San Diego, CA. She is the author and/or coauthor of the Positive Discipline Series.

The Positive Discipline Website

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Investing in Family Happiness: The Importance of Date Night. By Carol Schilling Dores Feel like there’s not enough of you to go around? Make the time to reconnect with your spouse! I know, it is counter-intuitive. However, the better you feel, the more you can do. A friend posted on Facebook, looking for date night ideas. It brought back all kinds of memories of when our kids were young. When our first was born, we realized pretty quickly that all of our attention and energy was going to parenting, working, and keeping a house going. We were sleep deprived and burned out pretty quickly. We both worked full time, and so I felt really guilty about spending event more time away from them. However, within six months, we knew that we had to start reconnecting as adults, partners, husband and wife. So we began a Saturday night date night routine.

On our first date night, we called each other “Mommy” and “Daddy”, and that quickly became one of our rules – we had to use each other’s first names. We set another few rules…no talking about our son, and no talking about work or household responsibilities. I remember it took us a while to get back to connecting as a couple. We were totally consumed and overwhelmed by lack of sleep and a huge sense of responsibilities. We slowly began to laugh again. Hold hands. Do that gazing in to each other’s eyes thing. We also began to appreciate COMPASS | Positive Discipline EZINE for Families

how hard “it” is, and connected on a deeper level. We continued our date night routine for many, many years. We now have two adult children, and will happily celebrate our 31st anniversary later this year. What does this have to do with parenting and Positive Discipline? Well, if we as parents are totally burned out and not connecting with our spouse/parenting partner, guess what. We will not be able to be the kinds of parents that we hope to be. Children know when there is love in the house, and when there is tension and stress. You know the saying “Monkey see, monkey do”. Well that’s when one person’s brain neurons imitate another person’s brain neurons. So our children will respond and reflect what is going on….if you want them to feel a sense of belonging and love, you need to feel that. A loving household can overcome a lot more obstacles. When you as adults are problem solving together in a healthy way, you are teaching your children to do the same. And ultimately, when they are in a relationship and/or get married, they will have grown up knowing how important connecting with a spouse is. My parents were married for 58 years. They had a date night every Saturday night. I totally remember them, and am quite sure they didn’t call each other “Mommy” and “Daddy”.

Children know when there is love in the house, and when there is tension and stress. A loving household can overcome a lot more obstacles.

Take the time to connect with each other. It’s worth the babysitter money.

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Carol Schilling Dores Carol is the mother of two adult sons, and lives in Connecticut. She is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting and Classroom Educator. She is the co-founder of Positive Discipline of Connecticut, a non-profit organization that inspires and promotes the development of life skills and respectful relationships in families, schools, and businesses in our local communities. Carol is available to teach parenting classes, bring Positive Discipline in to schools and classrooms, and provide one-on-one coaching. She is also on the Positive Discipline Association Board of Directors.

Email: Website: Positive Discipline of Connecticut

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Parent Explanations Gone Wild: Stop Explaining and Start Addressing Emotions By Kelly Pfeiffer

Again and again you explain a “reason” to your child for your decision, limit, etc. Your “reason” makes perfect sense, but your child continues to cry, scream,

“You have to put the toy back on the shelf. You can’t get that toy today. You can’t get a toy every time we come to the store.” “We have to leave because Ian’s family needs to eat dinner. We have to get home too and get you fed and to bed. You’ll get to play with Ian again this weekend.”

“You can’t have candy now because we’re having dinner soon . . . and . . . it’s not good for your teeth . . . and . . . not healthy.”

whine, etc. No need to name the exact issue. These examples will sound close enough: As a parent, you try hard to maintain composure, show respect for your child and handle sticky situations like a loving and nurturing parent. In moments of parent-child conflict, you make positive eye contact and calmly state a limit along with the reasons for that limit. But, how’s that approach going for you? Is your kid buying what you’re selling? After you’ve explained your reason, is your kid voicing agreement? Something like - “Yeah, you’re exactly right. I don’t need this toy. I have enough toys at home.” If your kid is like most, he or she responds with more tears, more

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whining or more defiance. Our kids are smart, right? Why can’t they understand the simple logic that we’re explaining? Parents everywhere attempt this sales pitch strategy daily. Like me, you’ve witnessed this tactic in grocery stores, parking lots and public parks. Parents list off the features of the logic they wish their kids would buy. This common approach doesn’t seem to yield results, but parents everywhere continue spouting the voice of reason. Maybe they don’t know what else to do. Maybe you don’t know what else to try. Has your explaining gone wild? Have you explained until you’re exhausted? Have you “reasoned” with your child until both of you are miserable? Want to know why it isn’t working and what Positive Discipline tool works better instead? Why Explaining Doesn’t Work If I took a quick survey from the general public of why reasoning doesn’t work, I’d get a couple of popular answers. 

“You just can’t reason with a child.”

“Kids are self-centered. They just want what they want.”

Although both of those statements hold some truth, they don’t address the real reason kids aren’t buying the explanations. Explaining doesn’t get results because it doesn’t address the primary problem from your child’s point of view. What’s the Real Problem? What’s going on? Let’s take a step back and identify the dynamics going on in many parent-child conflicts. You have a logical reason for your point of view, so you approach the issue with logic. Because the logic makes sense to you, you assume it will make sense to your child. But your child usually isn’t interested in the logic because logic doesn’t address your child’s problem. So what is your child’s problem and how can you help solve it?

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What Kids Really Need and Want Most of your child’s problems are centered around their emotions. Even if a problem seems logical to you, it usually creates an emotional problem for your child. Offering logic doesn’t speak the language of emotions. Instead of offering explanations, parents can address conflict moments with one of my favorite Positive Discipline tools called “validate feelings.” Validating feelings will speak emotional language to your child while also addressing one of your child’s essential needs – connection. Here’s an example. Let’s say your child is upset because it’s time to stop playing at a friend’s house. In the past, you might explain the reasons that your child has to leave. Using this new approach, you still might explain once the reasons that you need to leave but after that, you will validate your child’s feelings. So it might look like this: You: We have to go home now. Child: Why? You: Because it’s dinner time. Child: But, I don’t want to leave. You: You’re upset because you’re really having a good time, aren’t you? Child: (nods) You: And you really wish we didn’t have to leave now. Child: Yes, I’m having fun. You: It’s so hard to stop playing when you’re having lots of fun, isn’t it? Child: Yeah. You: It’s really hard. It’s hard for me too sometimes. What can we do that would help? This scenario could end lots of different ways, but your child is more likely to calm down if you connect emotionally. Additionally validating your child’s feelings on a continuing basis will build trust and deepen the relationship, something that makes future discipline situations easier.

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Your child may continue to cry a little because he or she is disappointed or your child may have a really tough time and even cry more or have a tantrum. I want you to know that the goal of validating feelings isn’t to get your child to stop being sad or stop crying. Often, the results of validating feelings are that your child will feel understood and therefore calm down, but the goal of validating feelings is to connect with your child and your child’s perspective. Validating feelings does usually address your child’s primary issue and as long as you keep validating feelings and connecting to your child, the situation will usually (not always) de-escalate rather than escalate. Validating Feeling – It Helps Your Child Calm Children aren’t born with self-calming skills. Learning to self-regulate (selfcalm) takes time and it’s a lifelong process. Validating feelings offers several benefits for your child to make strides in developing self-calming skills: 1. Attachment Boost - Creates closeness and trust between you and your child (builds trust and strengthens the parent-child attachment) 2. Helps Your Child Identify/Label Feelings – One of the primary skills for learning to self-regulation emotions is to first label those feelings 3. Addresses the Emotional Problem – Validating feelings focuses on your child’s most pressing problem, dealing with the disappointments in life. Stop Explaining – Start Validating

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” There is some debate about whom to credit for that quote, but it’s one that matters for parenting with Positive Discipline.

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Kelly Pfeiffer Kelly Pfeiffer is the founder and owner of Think It Through Parenting. A Certified Positive Discipline Lead Trainer, Kelly teaches live interactive workshops to parents and child care providers on child development, social-emotional skills, self-care for parents, conflict resolution for families and Positive Discipline tools. She’s authored over 100 web articles on child development topics, blogs about Positive Discipline parenting and also teaches creative writing as a writer artist in residence in elementary schools. Kelly is mom/step-mom to two teenagers and two young adults.

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